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Midvale • Hanabi Japanese Restaurant sits just off State Street like an oyster rough on the outside, but inside rests a pearl in the Midvale dining scene.
Overlooking the rundown exterior, guests inside will find tasteful décor and a neat dining room. Hanabi offers a wide selection of sushi rolls from the sushi bar along with ramen, teriyaki, bulgogi and yakisoba, in addition to bentos during lunch hours.
Sushi is certainly the focus of Hanabi, given the generous selection of rolls outlined on the menu including some I've not come across before. A favorite was the rock shrimp roll ($12.50). This soy paper-wrapped offering is filled with crab, avocado and a delicate tempura asparagus topped with baked shrimp and drizzled with spicy mayo. The slight sweetness of the shrimp and earthiness of asparagus surprised and delighted the tastebuds each bite.
One of several deep-fried rolls on the menu was the Tahiti ($11.75), filled with tuna, salmon, crab and avocado. Because it's packed with so many proteins, I appreciated the thinner slices of this roll, which allowed for good distribution of the spicy mayo sauce.
Another standout was the Mercury roll ($12.75). Hot tempura shrimp and fresh cucumber are rolled up and covered in crab salad, then layered with barbecued eel and creamy avocado slices before finally being drizzled with sweet sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Although it's relatively common on many sushi menus in Salt Lake, we gave Hanabi's Confidential ($13.50) the nod as one of the baseline best in the city for the chef's use of cilantro and lime that worked perfectly with the tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, cucumber and spicy crab.
Two of my least favorite rolls were those I often turn to as no-fail standards. The spicy tuna ($7.75) at Hanabi is so finely chopped that the texture is nearly indistinguishable from the rice. It was also overly saturated with sriracha so much so that even the fresh cucumber spears couldn't cut through.
Another stalwart is the Sunset ($12.75), which is basically a California roll topped with salmon and lemon. This version had too-thin slices of salmon sashimi but a nice ponzu sauce.
As you may have noticed, the sushi rolls are expensive at Hanabi if you're paying full price. With a sushi deal six out of seven days of the week, however, they are generally a solid deal based on the size and quality. Monday through Thursday you'll enjoy 50 percent off select rolls if you dine in from 5 to 9 p.m. Happy hour on Friday and Saturday runs from 8 to 9:30 p.m., when you can buy two rolls and get another free from a list of 10. At lunch Monday through Saturday, get two sushi rolls (determined by the day) for $10.75.
Hanabi is more than sushi rolls. It also boasts a menu for ramen, the Japanese soup consisting of wheat noodles served in a meat- or fish-based broth flavored with soy sauce or miso and topped with sliced pork, ground pork, green onions and boiled eggs. Hanabi's ramen is also filled with bean sprouts.
We sampled the traditional tonkotsu ramen ($8.50) and found the pork broth to be hot and rich if not particularly memorable, while the KoKo ramen ($7.50) lacked any nuanced flavors in either the chicken broth or spicy ground protein. Miso and vegetarian ramen (both $8.50) are also available.
I've never visited Hanabi when there were more than a few tables, so service has been prompt and friendly every time with the right amount of interaction and attentiveness. Open seven days a week, fish is fresh and the selection allows for something for everyone. With few local dining options in Midvale, Hanabi Japanese Restaurant really is a jewel on State Street.
Heather L. King also writes for http://www.slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches
Hanabi Japanese Restaurant
Food • HHhj
Mood • HHhj
Service • HHhj
Noise • b
Hanabi Japanese Restaurant brings high-quality sushi to State Street in Midvale along with ramen, teriyaki and bentos, too.
Location • 7711 S. State St., Midvale; 801-561-0161
Online • http://www.hanabisushiut.com
Hours • Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. -2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; and Sunday, 4-8 p.m.
Children's menu • No
Prices • $$
Liquor • Beer and sake
Reservations • Yes
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • No
On-site parking • Yes
Credit cards • Yes